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New bioenergy hub created to further UK progress

UK science minister David Willetts has announced the opening of a new £3.5 million ($5.4 million) research centre dedicated to making bioenergy generation more widespread.

Researchers across six universities will work together at the Supergen Bioenergy Hub to explore how biomass plants can work more efficiently to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

‘The key thing about the hub is that it’s not just focused on technology but it’s looking at the whole system,’ says its director Patricia Thornley of Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

The hub will also focus on improving gasification technology which is used to make biomass a more efficient and less polluting fuel.

‘The problem is there are many different types of gasifier and they’ve all got different characteristics. It’s getting an interface that is sufficiently flexible to perform with that variation and yet sufficiently robust to protect the equipment without sacrificing efficiency,’ she adds.

Other universities involved in the project include Newcastle University leading a project on improving gasifier systems, Leeds University studying biomass processes that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and an Aston University project examining new approaches to creating bio-oil for transport fuel.